Choosing what map you play on in Ark: Survival Evolved is one of the first decisions you will have to make when you start playing. And, like many other survival-based open-world games, it is going to be your most important decision. What map you play on in Ark can drastically change the whole experience for you. The map dictates the environments you explore, the dinosaurs you encounter, and the difficulty of the entire experience. And while these maps aren't going to be randomly generated, each map is so large that it can still offer a new adventure, even if you've already played on it.

That said, naturally, certain maps are going to stick out more than others. Sometimes, with just how massive these maps can get, it can be challenging to figure out which ones are worth playing. This is especially true if you are a new player or you haven't played in years. If you are either of those, then this list could help you. We'll be pointing out five of the best Ark maps available to players.

5. The Island

Our first map on the list is a bit of a boring one, but a good choice for new players. The Island is one of the base game maps and has a balanced terrain and dino variety. Not only that, but as one of the first maps, it has a steady level and resource progression. As you move through the map, you can expect the lethality of the dinosaurs you encounter and the amount of resources you earn to both go up. Overall, this map will give you a tailored PvE experience that looks as balanced as possible. Unfortunately, that promise comes with a real lack of exciting gameplay compared to other maps on this list. It plays very safe and can get boring quickly, especially if you put tons of hours into this game.

4. Aberration

Our next map is a lot different from our last one. Aberration is a much more difficult experience than most other maps. If you enter this one unprepared, be ready to die—a lot. However, with that boosted difficulty comes one of the most rewarding experiences Ark has to offer. This map is designed to make you travel to more challenging areas to get new materials. These materials help you make new creations to explore even more dangerous areas. The map's progression is entirely built with this process in mind. And in turn, for all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into this map, you will find some of the most epic dinosaurs and creatures that you can't usually get in other maps, including the very sought-after Rock Drake. If you are a glutton for punishment or enjoy overcoming impossible odds, this map has everything you will want plus more.

3. Valguero

This map is similar to The Island because it has a large diversity of dinosaurs and a well-balanced locale with a lot to offer. The main difference is that it does a lot of these things better. While The Island is a good map to play if new to the game, Valguero is great to hop into once you become familiar with how Ark plays. However, this doesn't stop Valguero from being a map with things to offer to new players. With beautiful sceneries mixed throughout this Valley map, you will find yourself taking in the sights often. You might even be tempted to build your base in some of these breathtaking locations. This map has a lot to offer to new and veteran players alike. And while some of the most powerful and awe-inspiring dinosaurs are absent from this map, it is entirely free to play.

2. Ragnarok

Before our number one map came out, Ragnarok was one of the best-made maps with some of the best dino and biome varieties. It's similar to Valguero in that regard, except Ragnarok is a larger map. One big difference is that materials and such are more common. You do not need to enter more challenging areas to get the more sought-after materials. This might be a turn-off for some, but if you are looking to build and don't want to take on the world to do this, then Ragnarok works for you. Not only that, but it also follows in Valguero's footsteps in the fact that it's gorgeous. There's a good reason this map is mentioned a lot by Ark players.

1. Crystal Isles

Our number one map started as a modded map. It has since been included in the main game as a DLC. Crystal Isles is a huge map with plenty of locales to explore for resources and base building. It also offers a large variety of dinosaurs for you to fight and tame, making it one of the go-to maps for finding some of the more sought-after dinos. And if you view yourself as a bit of a sightseer, you will not be disappointed with this map. The locales in this map are some of the most stunningly beautiful areas that are certain to leave you in awe. And the best part is that it is free. This map is sure to take the time you put into it and give you a worthwhile experience.

These maps each offer a unique experience, but each one is equally valuable to the right player. Whether you are a veteran or a new player, any of these maps can give a memorable and remarkable experience. Just be ready to experience everything Ark has to offer. Everything.